In recent years the Jim Evans Academy for Professional Umpiring has hosted an annual company bowling party. Typically the event goes off like you’d imagine a company bowling event would with little fanfare. But, not this year.
Each year, teams are assembled and playful names are selected. However, this year one team went a little too far by picking a team name that drew a resemblance to the Ku Klux Klan. Then, shockingly, team members arrived in costumes that were reminiscent of clothing the racist group is well known for and reportedly using well-known slurs! While this sort of behaviour would make most people uncomfortable the school’s only black employee felt a great deal of unease (Which I’m sure is a mild way of putting it). Soon after, photographs were circulated and news began to get out about what transpired that night. It didn’t take long for Minor League Baseball (and MLB by extension) to take notice.
“We conducted an investigation, made our queries, and we uncovered behavior that we found to be reprehensible.” stated Pat O’Conner, President of MiLB. And the reprehension? MiLB will not longer accept students from the Evans Academy which last year produced 14 recruits who were formally evaluated by Professional Baseball Umpire Corp, a subsidiary of MiLB.
The consequence seems fitting. Afterall, why would the MiLB and MLB want to be associated with group who believes this sort of action is simply “… a bad joke that was not meant to hurt anyone” (Jim Evans). To complicate the matter slightly is the fact that Minor League Baseball opened it’s own competing Umpire School this year, which has been fodder for Evans and others, allowing them to point to that as a hidden motive.
MiLB does not have any agreement with the Evan’s Academy or any Umpire School so I don’t see this decision being changed at any point even if it becomes a legal matter. For now, take the Jim Evans Academy off your list of potential Umpire Schools.